US Forest Service urges caution on northern Michigan's rivers ahead of July 4 holiday

PM River at Indian Bridge.jpg
Posted at 1:14 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 13:14:42-04

(WXYZ) — The US Forest Service is urging anyone heading to the Huron-Manistee National Forests in northern lower Michigan for the July 4 holiday to use caution on waterways.

According to the Forest Service, recent weather have generated higher than average water levels on several rivers that are popular for recreation. These include the Pere Marquette, the Pine, and the White. Officials are warning about strong currents, increased debris in the water, difficulty going under bridges and other low-hanging obstacles.

“Even experienced paddlers have been surprised by recent changes to the rivers,” said Dave Jaunese, Assistant Ranger for the Baldwin/White Cloud District in a news release. “The biggest challenge for paddlers right now is that there are more obstacles on and underneath the water.”

The warning also extends to popular tubing rivers like the AuSable. Officials say they are mostly clear of debris, but they also have swifter currents than normal, resulting in reduced float times. The lower water temperatures are also leading to increased chances of hypothermia, even in summertime.

“It’s really important that river users plan ahead and prepare,” said Recreation and Hydropower Program Manager Kristen Thrall in a news release. “Know your float time, your final landing, and the location of rest stops along the way.”

“The rivers see heavy use during summer holidays,” said Thrall. “Please remember that your actions can impact the safety and experience of other visitors.”

You can get more information about specific rivers by contacting the nearest ranger station. Alerts about the rivers will be posted on the Huron-Manistee National Forests' Facebook page.

Visitors are encouraged to heed all warning signs, moderate their alcohol consumption and wear Coast Guard approved flotation devices. Additional safety information can be found online.